How to Create Categories in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Excel is a powerful tool for organizing and analyzing data. One of its key features is the ability to create categories, which allows you to group related data together. Whether you’re managing a budget, tracking inventory, or analyzing sales figures, creating categories in Excel can help you keep your data organized and make it easier to work with. In this article, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to create categories in Excel.

What are Categories in Excel?

Categories in Excel are a way to group related data together. They allow you to organize your data into logical sections, making it easier to analyze and work with. Categories can be applied to both numeric and text data, and they provide a structured framework for managing information within a spreadsheet.

Benefits of Using Categories

Using categories in Excel offers several benefits:

  • Organization: Categories help you organize your data in a structured manner, making it easier to find and analyze specific information.
  • Data Analysis: By grouping data into categories, you can perform calculations, generate reports, and gain insights more efficiently.
  • Data Validation: Categories enable you to set specific rules and restrictions for different sets of data, ensuring data integrity and accuracy.
  • Filtering and Sorting: With categories, you can quickly filter and sort data based on specific criteria, allowing you to focus on relevant information.
  • Visual Representation: Categories can be used to create charts and graphs, providing a visual representation of your data and facilitating data interpretation.

Creating Categories in Excel

Step 1: Open Excel and Create a New Workbook

To begin creating categories in Excel, open the application and create a new workbook. You can do this by clicking on the “File” tab, selecting “New,” and choosing “Blank Workbook.” This will open a new spreadsheet where you can start entering your data.

Step 2: Enter Your Data

Enter your data into the Excel spreadsheet. Ensure that each column represents a different attribute or characteristic of your data, such as names, dates, or quantities. Make sure to include a header row for each column to provide clear labels for your data.

Step 3: Select the Data Range

Next, select the range of data that you want to categorize. This can be done by clicking and dragging your mouse over the desired cells. Ensure that you include all the relevant rows and columns in your selection.

Step 4: Create a Table

To create a table, go to the “Insert” tab and click on the “Table” button. Excel will automatically detect the range of data you selected in the previous step. Ensure that the “My table has headers” option is selected if your data has a header row.

Step 5: Add Category Labels

In the table design, select the column that you want to use as your category labels. Right-click on the column header, choose “Format Cells,” and select the “Category” option. Enter the appropriate label for each category. You can add as many categories as needed to accurately represent your data.

Step 6: Filter and Sort Data by Categories

Once you have created categories, you can use them to filter and sort your data. To filter data, click on the filter icon in the category column header and select the categories you want to view. To sort data, click on the sort icon in the column header and choose the desired sorting order.

Step 7: Modify and Update Categories

If you need to modify or update your categories, you can do so by editing the category labels in the table design. Right-click on the category column header, choose “Format Cells,” and make the necessary changes. Excel will automatically update the data based on the modified categories.

Step 8: Remove Categories

To remove categories from your Excel spreadsheet, go to the table design, right-click on the category column header, and choose “Delete.” This will remove the category labels and revert your data to a regular table format.

Step 9: Use Formulas with Categories

Categories can be used in formulas to perform calculations based on specific categories. For example, you can use the SUMIF function to calculate the sum of values within a particular category. Formulas provide powerful tools for data analysis and manipulation within Excel.

Step 10: Create Charts with Categories

Excel’s charting capabilities can be enhanced by using categories. You can create various types of charts, such as bar charts, pie charts, or line graphs, based on your categorized data. Charts provide a visual representation of your data, making it easier to identify patterns and trends.

That’s how to add categories in Excel without creating mess. Adding categories in Excel is a great option to avail, undoubtedly.

Tips for Effective Category Management

Here are some tips for effectively managing categories in Excel:

  • Consistency: Use consistent category labels throughout your spreadsheet to maintain data integrity.
  • Flexibility: Be open to adjusting and refining your categories as your data evolves.
  • Documentation: Document your category structure and any changes made for future reference.
  • Regular Updates: Update your categories regularly to ensure they accurately reflect the current state of your data.
  • Testing: Test your categories and formulas to ensure they are working correctly and producing the desired results.


Creating categories in Excel is a valuable technique for organizing and managing data. By following the step-by-step guide outlined in this article, you can effectively categorize your data, making it easier to analyze, filter, and sort. Excel’s powerful features, such as formulas and charts, can be further leveraged with categories, enhancing your data analysis capabilities.

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